Tutankhamun's Painted Box

The Lid

The top of the convex lid of Tutankhamun's painted chest is out of reach of the average visitor to the Cairo Museum. You can see enough of it to make out the scene, however. Tutankhamun in his chariot charges to the right with his bow drawn, hunting an array of animals with the help of his hunting dogs.

The front side of the lid of Tut's painted chest
The front side of the lid of Tut's painted chest, Cairo Museum © Nile Muse 2003

King Tutankhamun bust excerpted from his painted chest The hieroglyphs on this front side of the lid are the only written reference to the king's horses. They read literally as if the king mounted his team of horses, but the illustrations make it clear that they mean he mounted his chariot pulled by his team of horses.

Hieroglyphs on the lid of Tut's painted chest say the king mounted his chariot

The hunting scene involves wild animals identified by Carter as gazelles, hartebeests, wild-asses, a pair of ostriches, and a striped hyena.1 Hieroglyphs declare that "he found great companies (of) the wild animals of the desert, and his Majesty captured them in a little moment."5

v.1-12 | Chest Front | Chest Lid | Chest Back | Chest Ends ] Next: the Chest Back »


  1. Howard Carter and A.C. Mace, The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen Dover Publication, NY 1977. Includes black and white photos of both sides of the lid and the chest in situ by Harry Burton.
  2. William MacQuitty, TUTANKHAMUN the Last Journey, A Quartet book, Crown Publishers, NY, 6th printing 1978. Includes an extreme closeup color photo by MacQuitty of Tut in his chariot facing right trampling Asians.
  3. Jean-Pierre Corteggiani, The Egypt of the Pharaohs at the Cairo Museum, Hatchette Guide Bleus, Paris, 1986. Color photo of the full side of the chest with the chariot facing to the left (Nubians and lions).
  4. David Sandison, The Art of Ancient Egypt, Laurel Glen Publishing, San Diego, CA 1997. Has a full color two-page photo of Tutankhamun's hunting chest lid portraying the animal hunt with the horses hieroglyphs.
  5. The Griffith Institute, www.griffith.ox.ac.uk/gri, Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation, The Howard Carter Archives, Photographs by Harry Burton. www.griffith.ox.ac.uk/gri/carter/021-p1817.html, Carter No.: 021 Notes made by Mrs. de Garis Davies in January/February 1951 on the casket of Tutankhamun.
  6. Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, Life and death of a pharaoh Tutankhamen, New York Graphic Society, Boston, published by Little, Brown, and Co. 1963 6th printing 1976. Color photo of full side of chest with horses facing right, trampling Asiatics; close up of that scene and closeup of the similar scene on back side with horses facing left, trampling Nubians.
  7. T.G.H. James, Tutankhamen, White Sta S.r.l. 2000. Color photo two page spread close up of scene with horses facing left, conquering Nubians.

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